A tight-knit community in the East Bay turned out for a fundraiser Monday night to help an injured high school wrestler get mobile again.
Hundreds of people, even those considered rivals, packed the College Park High School gym in Pleasant Hill to help raise money for Ryan Joseph, who was paralyzed from the neck down after a freak accident during a wrestling match last month.
The fundraiser used food to get inside the pockets of Ryan's supporters, and the funds will help Ryan's family with expenses while he rehabs in Denver.
"It’s so awesome a community can come together in such a positive way," said Sandy Jones, Ryan’s former teacher. "The Bulldogs and the Falcons have been rivals for a long time; you push that aside and do something for a good kid."
The community already has been raising money to help the Joseph family temporarily relocate to Denver so they can be with him during rehab. Now, the community has a new goal: help Ryan’s family buy a wheelchair accessible van.
"Being able to wrap our love around the family, them being able to transport their son without the hassle of doing that is really the heartbeat around this event," College Park parent Dena Betti said.
Ryan’s friends have been keeping tabs on his progress through social media and coaches.
"Definitely looking forward to him coming back," friend Jacob Stephenson said. "I know that he is slightly recovering; glad to see that happening."
It wasn't clear how much money had been raised Monday night, but the goal was at least $20,000.